Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown, charming, charismatic, ebullient, original, innovative, inspired and inspiring, historian supreme, etc, etc. I am asked to write an account of my life, by the Editor of a Journal, and if any of my legions of readers have any memories of my time in Barrystown, I will be happy to hear of it. I remain as ever the most devious and most wily of them all—that wily boy from beside the mine pits.

The People on June 9th 1877 reported that “On Thursday His Lordship, the Most Rev. Dr Warren, administered the Sacrament of Confirmation to nearly two hundred children in the large and commodious church at Carrig-on-Bannow. A good many of the neighbouring clergy were in attendance.”

My impression is that confirmations were infrequent due to travel difficulties and it is clear that these children could range in age from ten to twenty-five or even older.

The Wexford Independent on May 12th 1838 reported a most auspicious and historic event at Danescastle:–

“The New Church Danescastle

(from an old correspondent)

The solemn sacrifice of the Mass was for the first time celebrated in this fine temple, dedicated to the service of the Most High, on Sunday last, by the Rev. Mr Moran C. C.; who after the august ceremony, in a very appropriate address, congratulated the flock on the erection of such a splendid edifice, in which they might satisfactorily perform the sacred rights of their religion. The Reverend gentleman passed a well deserved eulogium on the Messrs Boyse for the philanthropic and patriotic manner in which they came forward to assist them in such an expensive undertaking; in fact, that but for the magnificent donations of these illustrious characters, the people of so small a parish as Bannow would never have entertained the idea of building on such a magnificent scale. When completed this chapel will stand unrivalled in any country district in Ireland and, up to the present, has been carried by the united exertions of a Protestant landlord and his Catholic tenantry, without soliciting the pecuniary assistance of any person beyond the precincts of their parish and is not one shilling in debt. Much credit is due to the Rev. Mr Moran for his zealous and indefatigable exertions in having the works carried on with spirit and activity; and to Martin Day, the eminent architect, from whose design and under whose superintendence the chapel is being completed.”

Local tradition has it that the walls of the new chapel were built around the old chapel and pending the completion of the new building, Mass continued to be celebrated in the old chapel, enclosed as it was within the new building but one piece of documentary evidence might query that.

Fr Martin Moran C. C. although only the Curate in the parish, was effectively functioning as Parish Priest: the actual Parish Priest, Fr Peter Corish was residing at Ballymitty and ministering there. When Fr Edward Murphy died the local people wanted his Curate to be made Parish Priest and resented the appointment of Fr Corish.

Instinctively, one would say that John C. Tuomy, the Taghmon schoolmaster was the correspondent who sent this account to Jack Greene’s newspaper but I think that in his piece on the Bannow Boatman, Mr Tuomy spoke of first coming to Bannow post 1840 but my recollection of that piece may be faulty. Martin Mac Donald-Doyle (if not at work in the Dublin Post Office, the job that the poet Tom Moore got for him) might have written it or some local schoolmaster. The interior signals from this account is that the author was a propagandist for the Boyses.

James Ryan the editor of the bilious Wexford Conservative, the organ of the Orange Order, regularly ridiculed and denigrated Tom Boyse giving him the mock soubriquet of “the Patriot of Bannow”; this is his offering from June 2nd 1838:–

“Base Ingratitude

While Mr Boyse the Bannow patriot, was bursting his lungs at Taghmon, fanning the flame of agitation and annihilating tithes with the force of his mighty bombast, a few of his popish neighbours though it more to their advantage to remain at home, cutting and stealing away a parcel of sea weed which the Patriot had collected for manure! And what was this but doing justice to themselves, agreeably to the notions which they are daily picking up from agitators.” [Popish is derived from the word Pope]

The “popish neighbours” referred to (if they existed at all) would have to be the men of Tintern who sometimes rowed in boats across to pilfer some of the seaweed on the Bannow coast-line abutting the Boyse estate. Dr Keating the famous Bishop of Ferns had a different view of the Boyses: The Wexford Independent reported on the 5th of September 1838:–

“The Catholic Church

The Right Rev. Doctor Keating administered the sacrament of Confirmation to upwards of 300 children in the Church of Danescastle on Tuesday. His Lordship with that blandness and suavity of manner for which he is characteristic, congratulated the people on the erection of such an edifice, in these times, dedicated to the service of the Most High, as that from the altar of which he had the pleasure to address them. During the delivery of a discourse which lasted an hour and a half, amongst other things his Lordship said—For my part, I return my heartfelt thanks to the amiable Boyse family, for their munificent donations towards the erection of this church; and if every parish in the diocese of Ferns had such a lord of the soil as Mr Boyse, how would true religion and virtue flourish? My dear brethren, to you and the Boyse family I tender my heartfelt acknowledgements, for the high sense of religion you have displayed in the erection of such a church as that in which I have ….the gratification to meet you. From the clever answering and the neatness and appearance of the children, the greatest praise is due to the resident clergymen, the parents and guardians of the children and the schoolmaster of the parish.”

The interior evidence of this sermon by Dr Keating seems to prove that he preached from the altar of the new Chapel and that would seem to rule out the fanciful notion of the people worshipping within the old church enclosed within the new one.

At the Waterford Assizes in July 1870, as reported in The Wexford Independent on July 23rd 1870, Henry Samuel Hunt Boyse took an action against Laurence Devereux for damage for trespass on the lands of the plaintiff’s lands at Bannow “in gathering seaweed and Mr Devereux’s defence was to deny trespass and asserted a right to take the seaweed between high water and low water mark.

Serjeant Armstrong represented Mr Boyse. He complained that the defendant had entered his lands, cut and taken away seaweed and that he attempted to uphold his trespass by threats of violence. I will quote his legal gobble-de-gook:–

“On the question of usage and prescription the learned serjeant said it existed only where the persons to whom this right lay, had the power of giving the privilege to another and who had a right to wreckage on the coast. In this case that right had existed from time immemorial in the hands of the plaintiff and his family and the government to whose servants he delegated the duties of collecting wreckage on the property had charged him with the salvage and regularly accounted to him for the remainder of the property thus recognising his rights in the most plain and emphatic manner.” This looks the same argument as Tom Boyse relied on in the 1839 case: the Boyses had so long been in control of the seaweed where the coastline abutted with their estate and others recognised this right by taking leases of harvesting the seaweed from the Boyses that the Boyse family had what was called a prescriptive right to the sea-weed. I am not sure if the ship wreck issue confirmed or queried the Boyse claim.

Larry Devereux was previously convicted “for a previous trespass in this very place and one of the men employed with him now in this action, when prosecuted, paid down the damages and promised never to offend again.”

Mr Robert Dobbyn deposed he was local agent to Mr Boyse; produced a deed of 1723 between Samuel Boyse and John French and Patrick French, leasing 16 acres of the land of Haggart for 21 years. Mr Hemphill, representing Larry Devereux, objected that this lease had nothing to do with a case at Bannow but Justice Lawson ruled against him; the learned Justice at Mr Hemphill’s request, took note of his objection.

The historical value of the case is that it gave accounts of olden leases, now lost in historical darkness. I quote:–

“The lease [to the Frenchs] confirmed the right of wreck, seaweed and gave liberty to the tenants of the inland townlands to draw seaweed and sand. Another lease to parties named Fanning gave similar rights to the tenants of other townlands. Other leases of a similar character were put in showing the right of Mr Boyse to the shore rights, trees, coal, seaweed, &c. Mr Dobbyn deposed to receiving rent under some of these leases while subsisting and on the renewal, but on the renewals the rights were not reserved, the whole shore being, witness stated, in the exclusive possession of the owner; witness had been paid by the Receiver of Droits on account of wrecks cast ashore since 1859 and had received detailed accounts each year (produces some of them).”

The last detail (re the Receiver of Droits) would have enhanced the Boyse case about their right to wreckage on the coastline.

George Galvin acted as keeper of the strand. Mr Roche, a tenant of Mrs Colclough, had trespassed; the summons and plaint against him was shown to the court plus his submission and his undertaking not to commit the trespass again; a letter from Mr Powell, the agent for Mrs Colclough “stating that the tenants would not trespass again” plus letters on the same subject between Mr  Dobbyn and Mr Powell were handed into the court. The next bit of Mr Dobbyn’s evidence is a bit opaque!

“An offer of £3 a year by me of Mrs Colclough’s tenants to be allowed to take the seaweed was made, the place is called Bannow Strand and Boat Bay is from it; as the east side is a rock preventing horses and carts getting to the strand; there are private roads leading to it with gates on it.” He added that when “Galvin” pointed out to him that the trespass had taken place, “there were no roads leading to it.”

Mr Dobbyn said that the tenants were charged 2 shillings for each horse for taking sea weed from the rocks between high and low water mark. He had not apprised Mr Powell that he was going to “get admission of title from Roche”. He added that it was half a mile from the submerged city of Waterford that the trespass was committed. He had a certified copy of the patent.

George Galvan (sic, the spelling of his name changed during the trial!), caretaker of the strand, said he was 71 years of age and was forty years residing on the estate and was nominated strand keeper after the trial at Wexford (presumably) in 1839. In his evidence Mr Galvan spliced past events into the narrative of the present:–

“saw much thrown up in his time and it was taken home to Mr Boyse’s place; knows Devereux, the defendant and saw him trespassing some years ago; saw him take sea weed off the strand; saw him again last January on the 3rd; saw him between Boat Bay and the Church of Bannow; he had a horse and car and banked the weed generally above high water mark; spoke to him about it and he said there was new law and order from Dublin; saw other men trespassing and taking seaweed from the rocks; pointed out where he saw Devereux trespassing; Andrew Cullen and Martin Cullen had the strand and liberty to cut the seaweed to make kelp; they paid a rent for it; Samuel Boyse was owner of Bannow at that time; saw Roche trespass on the same ground.”

In reply to Mr Gibson, he recalled that in 1832, a wrecked ship was taken from Bannow to Wellingtonbridge “and that Mr Boyse had to give it up to the Receiver of Droits….” This detail would seem to weaken the case of the Boyses on the issue of sea wreckage. He could not say that he saw Devereux cut sea weed on the 3rd of January “but I did on the 15th of January; often saw men running away; a son of John Devereux was one of them; almost every one on Bannow Island was summoned and fined.”

The people on Bannow Island were tenants of Mrs Colclough, I believe; part of the Tintern estate and implacable enemies of the Bannow/Boyse estate.

Bartholomew Cullen, a tenant of Mr Boyse, said that his land included the strand and that the tenants paid under the estate rates for taking sea weed; he so paid himself…” He added—significantly:–

“saw Devereux taking the sea weed under witness’s land; have known the tenants of Bannow Island to take the sea weed and if they saw Galavan (sic, the spelling of the name changes again) they would run away.”

I wonder if Mr Cullen was mentored to say this: the significance of the tenants of Bannow Island running away, if they saw Galvan is obvious—such flight denoted guilt on their part, a sense of doing wrong and of acting illegal.

In reply to the court, presumably Justice Lawson, he asserted that the Bannow Island people never took the sea weed “unless when Galvan was away.” He spoke of seeing a Kane taking sea weed; he was not a tenant “but had liberty, heard so from Mr Boyse”

The evidence of William Coghlan, Collector of Customs and Receiver of Wreck clearly bolstered the Boyse case on their prerogative in regard to wreckage:–

“He accounted to Mr Boyse yearly for wreckage on the coast at Bannow after deducting the salvage; heard of the vessel being taken away and heard the owner turned up.”

Mr Jonas King [Barriestown] testified that he knew Patrick Costelloe and that he had a son; Costelloe lived in Clonmines when it belonged to Lord Valentia; Clonmines ran down to the bay. Serjeant Armstrong read letters of Mr King to Mr Boyse “with reference to the Costelloes taking weed off the strand and then paying a fine and asking pardon for the offence.

Mr Stephen Prendergast, Clerk to the Petty Sessions at Taghmon, indicated that Laurence Devereux (the defendant) was fined 5 shillings and costs “at the suit of the Rev. Mr Boyse [brother of Tom Boyse who succeeded him to his estates] for trespass on the strand for sea weed; several other convictions were proved.”

Captain William Parle examined stated:–

“Was born on Mr Boyse’s estate and is 69 years old; lived close to Bannow town about 20 years; to his knowledge all who took sea weed from the strand during that time had to first obtain the permission of Mr Boyse; was present at the making of the boundaries between the lands of Mr Colclough and Mr Boyse.”

I will omit the address of Mr Hemphill for the defendant Larry Devereux, on the basis of its tedious complexity and specious assertions. The problem for the defence was that while the jurisprudence on prescriptive law was exasperatingly illogical, it nevertheless was guidance for the courts; indeed courts were obliged to heed it.

The evidence of Larry Devereux was hard to shake. He stated that he was 40 years of age and lived all his life on Bannow Island. There were five tenants on the Island. He remembered his father taking drift sea weed “from that strand and use it for manure; the sea weed was often cast on the strand when his father took it; have always taken it as his father did; also took sand for manure; knows George Galvan; took sea weed on the 3rd of January below high water mark; banked sea weed above high water mark that day but below the ordinary high water mark; never used sea weed for anything but manure; went across the strand from Bannow Island and back; did not go on Mr Boyse’s land; all the other tenants did the same; never went above high water mark because the bank is the mark and no ordinary tide goes up to it; met Galvan on three occasions he spoke of; never ran away from him.”

In reply to Serjeant Armstrong he stated that the tenants “subscribed £20 to fight the law” and added—understandably—that he would run away from Galvan to escape the fine! The point there may be that his running from Galvan was not induced by a sense of shame and guilt or sense of illegality. Maybe somebody mentored him, as well!

Another tenant, named Roche, deposed that he was 39 years a tenant and always took the sea weed below high water mark. Used to see other tenants drawing sea weed as he did himself. He paid the £5 and £2 10 shillings costs when a writ was served on him. He was poor and thought it better to get out of the lion’s den when once in it than to remain there; used the sea weed for manure.”

In reply to Serjeant Armstrong, his legal representative, he drove home the point that he felt that he was not doing anything illegal; conversely he was asserting a right to the sea weed:–

“Mr Dobbyn told me the £5 was spent on blankets and I expect to get the benefit; was fined several times; pleaded guilty and went again the next day; did not consider it wrong to do so; often went along the bank to get a stick and did get one; gave it to the coast-guards.”

Andy Meyler said that he knew the Bannow tenants to draw the sea weed since 1831 and that he never saw any of it taken from above high water mark; in 1832 a French vessel was washed under Cullen’s land and it was taken away.

Laurence Colfer, James Tierney, John Devereux, James Neville and William Stafford “proved that they had been in the habit of taking sea weed between high and low water mark for a long period of time.”

The theme of the evidence of these witnesses was that there was a long practice of them and their ancestors in accessing the sea weed on the Bannow coast-line; a converse form of prescriptive right!

The claim of the Boyses had always that they were entitled to the sea weed resting or present between the low and high water marks on the coast line where it abutted with their estate.

The judge having summed up the case, the jury retired to their box and returned in a half an hour with a verdict for the plaintiff and damages of 40 shillings.